October 18, 2021

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‘Destello bravío’, unusual Spanish debut linking ‘Twin Peaks’

While the substance of a film like ‘Brave Flash’ seems to lie in the lysergic sensuality of the snack-akelarre with pestiños and pan flowers, in its commitment to static shots, the film forcibly expresses its interesting observational character.

Through its cracks, its holes, Ainhoa ​​Rodríguez’s debut film shows the invisibility of its characters, women from the city of Extremaduran, Tierra de Baños, thereby repeating the buried double yoke they face every day: women’s oppression and the countryside of oblivion.

Common and observational shots like the first, in which two women, barely stained in an unexpectedly calm natural portrait of the lake, screaming in front of the uncomfortable hue of the water that hide their incomprehensible words, are the ones who trying to uncover the various realities faced by the protagonists of the film. Reality is buried, dark and told in whispers, which refers to the demystification of the countryside as a space of serenity that closely aligns with the proposed terror that the peaceful city of ‘Twin Peaks’ hides, a constant but unconscious reference to Rodríguez’s films.

And the fact is that the directorial debut, as well as co-producer with Luis Miñarro to have as much creative freedom as possible in his approach to the population of Tierra de Baños , rejects any reference, although it can be placed in homeland cinematography in the orbit of works as diverse as Elena López Riera’s, Chema García Ibarra, Lois Patiño, Juan Cavestany or Miñarro himself (both in his role as producer and in his filmography as director). Filmography which, of various geographical variations, generic or formal, studies the diverse sociological and anthropological conditions of Spain.

Its intersection with non-fiction, paralleling cinematographic exploration such as that of López Riera, makes ‘Flash bravío’ a film with a call to its characters and with little interest in readable plot construction; the question, a priori, is not a trigger for rejection. However, in combination with its study of the atavistic rural world of Extremadura and a penchant for esotericism and mystery, the film which won a Special Jury Award at the past Malaga Festival reveals the almost irreconcilable and antagonistic coexistence of its vision: from naturalistic observation to the wit of strident visuality.

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Termites and white elephants in Tierra de Baños
‘Brave flash’ narrates the difficulty between whisper and crack, from static shots where the protagonist intervenes in a practically testimonial way. This is the case of the widow who returned to the city (whom she left precisely after marrying without the consent of her parents), whom we see behind the white curtains on the terrace where she sits, listening to music and dancing in solitude; and the woman who, with her back turned and in a barely perceptible tone of voice, narrates over coffee and pastries her tale of abuse and humiliation in scenes that can best be understood as opposed to lysergic sexual treats.

It is this sequence that refers to a special formula for making films visible: from incomplete images, without faces (or with faces reflected in uneven crystals that break up features) and with technical work in which an almost indistinguishable sound repeats the sound. . middle-aged woman in the rural world of the intimate and thoughtful.

Very much in line with the reflections of Manny Farber, who acknowledges his love for termite art and his deep rejection of white elephant art, Ainhoa ​​Rodríguez’s film seems to serve as a dichotomous summary of both meanings. And while in its naturalistic follow-up and anodyne talk and between whispers, ‘Flash bravío’ points to its termite-actress without being baroque or flashy, in its most elaborate and shrill scenes, the film claims to be an admirer of the author’s tinsel, from fixation to visuality to the touch. stands out, like an immovable white elephant, above his own thesis.

And that’s how Rodríguez’s film, which seems to aspire to a certain naturalistic representation of the lives of women in Tierra de Baños, passes with esotericism and scenes of unexpected mystery of artificial plasticity that seem barely comparable to the observational statism of the passage closest to non-fiction. in household and village settings.

‘Brave flash’: sudden flashes of two irreconcilable films
So, there are sequences with disturbing moods, like the subjective scene where a young woman nakedness is observed as we listen to male masturbation, a husband submissive to an unhappy wife who forces him to lick the palate, or his own lysergic snack to the beat of the folkloric jota de las olituneras, a scene whose inclusion is difficult to relate to the rest of the film if it doesn’t conflict with yoke told for the rest of the film.

Thus, two films of inevitable differences coexist which also dimly reflects all the contradictions raised by the film: religion against witchcraft, oppressed femininity against sexual domination, old age against desire, lonely abandonment of community covenants, worldly against esoteric and celestial … Contraposition, all of this, which is framed in a formal sphere in two somewhat obscure opposites but also helps us to understand that irreconcilable coexistence: narrative fiction versus non-fiction.

This method of supporting this persistent and pounding opposing thesis is nothing but technical, so montage and voice direction play a key role in reflecting the sudden and irreconcilable. And, as the title flash makes clear, the film highlights its inequalities and contrapositives through an edition in which the cut, devoid of any kind of sound or visual transition, is a wonderful tool, as is the sound field, full of melodic dissonant harmonies and compositions. which absorbs, precisely because of the editing of the film, disappears radically and unannounced.

The flash, the minimal light that casts an almost anecdotal shadow, then becomes the symbol that reveals all of the ‘Brave Flash’. A metaphor reflected in the montage pieces which, like the flash itself, illuminates in a rare way and testifies to the liberation of courageous rural women, and that, like lightning itself, disappears suddenly and without leaving a trace.